Guilt, shame and academic misconduct

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Moral and self-conscious emotions like guilt and shame can function as internal negative experiences that punish or deter bad behaviour. Individual differences exist in people’s tendency to experience guilt and shame. Being disposed to experience guilt and/or shame may predict students’ expectations of their emotional reactions to engaging in immoral behaviour in the form of academic misconduct, and thus dissuade students from intending to engage in this behaviour. In this study, students’ (n = 459) guilt and shame proneness, their expectations of feeling guilt and shame if they engaged in academic misconduct, and their intentions to engage in academic misconduct were measured. Three of the four facets of the guilt and shame proneness scale [GASP: Guilt–Negative-Behavior-Evaluation (NBE), Guilt-Repair, Shame–Negative-Self-Evaluation (NSE)] had significant negative correlations with academic misconduct intentions, and these relationships were mediated by anticipating shame and guilt related to engaging in academic misconduct. These results suggest that for some students expecting to experience negative moral emotions when engaging in academic misconduct may protect them from breaching ethical assessment rules.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)743-757
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Academic Ethics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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